Evolutionary Psychology and Understanding of Sexual Behaviour

Evolutionary Psychology and Understanding of Sexual Behaviour

Charles Darwin was the first to distinguish that all humans showed common reactions to certain situations. Emotional responses to threat, fear and other situations did not change much through the centuries.
Darwin wanted to find the answer to the question if all facial expressions, gestures and mimic were instinct reaction or were taught to the child by social norms. Darwin did not get an answer to his question but his ideas were carefully studies and developed by evolutionary psychologists.
In 1970s new step was made in the study of physiological states and emotions. During this period it was found out that emotional reactions to definite situations, such as happiness, anger, fear and many others did not depend on cultural context. People of different cultures, social positions, ages and genders showed same reactions to same emotions. This means that culture has not effect on emotional nature of human beings. This gave reasons to believe that certain emotional reactions are common to all people and this can be explained by evolutionary theory.
This theory resulted in the appearance of a science, which emerged as a combination of psychology and evolutionary theory. This branch of psychology is called evolutionary psychology.
Evolutionary psychology is a kind of psychology which explains all human actions and reactions by psychological adaptations (Buss, 2004). Evolutionary psychology derives from evolutionary theory introduced by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. Evolutionary psychology centres on cognitive and emotional reactions, which are regarded as adaptations.
Natural selection is an important conception of evolutionary psychology. Sexual selection is regarded as a part of natural selection according to evolutionary theory. This term was implemented by Darwin. According to this concept people and animals do everything possible in order to increase the chances of spice to survive. Good reproductive opportunity can be one of guarantees of survival. Sexual behaviour and instincts of humans are regarded from the position of natural selection in evolutionary psychology. So, evolutionary psychology explains sexual attraction and sexual behaviour from the position of sexual selection. According to this theory men and women are intuitively looking for the partners who would guarantee healthy children, which would guarantee the survival of the spice. These unconscious motives or instincts condition human sexual behaviour. Even standards of beauty are explained from this position. For example women with big breasts will be good mothers since they will be able to breed their children better. This information is saved in the memory of men and they instinctively look for women with big breasts. Tall and muscular men are better representatives of the spice because they have more chances to survive fighting the enemy. This means that their children will also have more chances to survive and that is why women try to find this kind of men as their partners and fathers for their children. This way most of standards of beauty, which exist through the centuries only reflect healthy and strong representatives of the spice who have better chances to reproduction. For example a famous psychologist Cole Sherwood states that: “biological processes are important to the interpretation, formulation, and behavioural implementation of any ethical system of human sexual relations” (Sherwood, 2002, p. 48 ) According to evolutionary psychology instincts and sexual selection not only give additional clues to the understanding of human sexual behaviour but fully explain it.
Evolutionary theory distinguished two types of sexual selection. These types are intersexual and intrasexual competition (Richards, 2000). Intersexual selection distinguishes the number of features which representatives of one sex find attractive in the representatives of another sex. Animals that are attractive for the opposite sex have better chances to have breed. Human creatures also try to correspond to the norms and standards of beauty which attract partners of the opposite sex. Women dye their hair and enlarge their breasts. Men train their bodies and buy expansive clothes. Intrasexual competition appears between the members of the same sex in the try to attract the attention of the opposite sex. In nature male birds with more bright colouring or better signing abilities have more chances to find female partner. Humans also do everything possible in order to win the competition and deserve attention and preferences of the opposite sex.
Evolutionary psychology definitely operates important facts which describe importance of instinct reaction for all spheres of human life. This information definitely gives ideas which help to understand human nature and human sexuality better. From the other side I believe that human sexual behaviour is more complex phenomenon than evolutionary psychology depicts it.
It’s necessary to give a precise definition of the term sexuality in order to pass to the study of sexuality in homosexual relationship. Despite there are a lot of arguments around the term itself there are two major characteristics adopted by the most scholars and researches. First of all sexuality has a social basement. Sexuality is not found in all cultures and there are societies where this term is not used at all. This proves that it is constructed by certain societies. Another characteristic of sexuality is initial division by active-passive roles, not genders. In ancient world in some countries this division was prior to male/ female division and sexual relations were determined rather by the roles individuals played than their gender. This one more time proves the acceptance of homosexuality by many ancient societies.
Sexual orientation is a complex of sexual, romantic and emotional attraction to another person. Sexual orientation is a part of sexuality. Other components of sexuality are biological sex and gender identity, and social gender role. Biological sense, gender identity and social gender role can be different for the same person.
So, evolutionary psychology provides much useful information which helps to understand sexual behaviour. It uses instincts and sexual selection as main driving forces which explain the nature of this behaviour. This information definitely expands knowledge in this field and gives keys to understanding it. From the other side if we limit our knowledge about sexual behaviour only by natural selection and evolutionary theory this knowledge will definitely be incomplete. There are a lot of other facts and theory which can give much information on this topic.

Bates, V. M., & Shackelford, T. K. (2008). The molecular genetic footprints of evolution. A review of Sean B. Carroll (2006), The making of the fittest: DNA and the ultimate forensic record of evolution. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 161-163.

Buss, David M. (2004). Evolutionary psychology: the new science of the mind. Boston: Pearson/A and B
Davidson, Arnold (1987) ‘Sex and the emergence of sexuality’, Critical Inquiry, 14 (Autumn), 16-48, reprinted in Stein, Edward (ed.), Forms of desire (1992, 1990), 89-132.

Goetz, A.T., Shackelford, T.K., Romero, G.A., Kaighobadi, F., & Miner, E.J. (in press). Punishment, proprietariness, and paternity: Men’s violence against women from an evolutionary perspective. Aggression and Violent Behavior.
Harris, M. (1989) Our Kind, Harper Collins: New York

Maner, J. K., & Shackelford, T. K. (2008). The basic cognition of jealousy: An evolutionary perspective. European Journal of Personality, 22, 31-36.

Kamin, L. (1969) Predictability, surprise, attention, and conditioning. In Campbell, B. and church, R., eds. Punishment and aversive behavior. New York: Appleton Century-Crofts; 44, 276-296

Panksepp, J. and J. B. Panksepp (2000) The Seven sins of evolutionary psychology. Evolution and Cognitivion, 6(2), 108-131
Pinker, S. (1997) How the Mind Works. Norton: New York
Shackelford, T. K., Besser, A., & Goetz, A. T. (2008). Personality, marital satisfaction, and probability of marital infidelity. Individual Differences Research, 6, 13-25.
Shackelford, T. K., & Goetz, A. T. (2007). Adaptation to sperm competition in humans. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 47-50.
Richards, Janet C. (2000). Human nature after Darwin: a philosophical introduction. New York: Routledge
Sherwood O. Cole(2002); Evolutionary Psychology: Sexual Ethics and Our Embodied Nature Journal article by Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 30,
Gazzaniga (ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences (1185-1197). Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press

Wilson, Edward O. (1998) Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. New York: Alfred A. Knopf